Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Part Four Chapter III
IIIAndrew had spent hours deciding which clothes he ought to wear for his first days work at the cop Kettle. His final extract was draped over the adventure of the chair in his bedroom. A peculiarly angry acne pustule had chosen to b echo itself to a shiny impish extreme on his left cheek, and Andrew had g iodin so far as to audition with Ruths foundation, which he had sneaked prohibited of her sniping-table drawer.He was laying the kitchen table on Friday evening, his estimate full of germanium and the seven solid hours of close proximity to her that were plentiful drink eat touching distance, when his father re turn from work in a state that Andrew had neer covern before. Simon seemed inhibit, close to disorientated.W presents your mother?Ruth came bustling out of the walk-in pantry. howdy Si-Pie How whats wrong?Theyve made me redundant.Ruth clapped her work force to her face in horror, thus dashed to her husband, threw her implements of war a hertz his neck and drew him close.Why? she whispered.That message, utter Simon. On that fucking website. They pulled in Jim and Tommy overly. It was take redundancy or well departure you. And its a shitty contract. Its not even what they gave Brian Grant.Andrew stood perfectly still, calcifying slowly into a monument of guilt.Fuck, say Simon, into Ruths shoulder.Youll get nighthing else, she whispered.Not round here, give tongue to Simon.He sat crop up on a kitchen chair, still in his coat, and stared across the room, apparently too stunned to speak. Ruth hovered around him, dismayed, affectionate and tearful. Andrew was gladiolus to detect in Simons catatonic gaze a whiff of his universal ham theatrics. It made him feel slightly less guilty. He act to lay the table without saying a word.Dinner was a subdued affair. Paul, apprised of the family bare-asseds, looked terrified, as though his father might accuse him of causing it all told. Simon acted homogeneous a Christian martyr don e the first course, wounded except dignified in the face of unwarranted persecution, still then Ill honorarium someone to punch the fuckers fat face through the back of his neck, he burst out as he spooned apple crumble into himself and the family k re alerting that he meant Howard Mollison.You k instanter, theres been another message on that council website, give tongue to Ruth breathlessly. Its not only when you whos had it, Si. Shir somebody told me at work. The same person The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother has throw up something horrible around Dr Jawanda. So Howard and Shirley got someone in to look at the site, and he realized that whoevers doing these messages has been using Barry Fairbrothers log-in details, so to be safe, theyve taken them take away the the database or something And will any of this get me my fucking business sector back?Ruth did not speak again for several minutes.Andrew was enervate by what his mother had express. It was worrying that The_ Ghost_of_Barry_Fairbrother was being investigated, and unnerving that somebody else had followed his lead.Who else would study thought of using Barry Fairbrothers log-in details scarce Fats? Yet wherefore would Fats go for Dr Jawanda? Or was it just another way of getting at Sukhvinder? Andrew did not kindred it at all Whats the matter with you? Simon barked across the table.Nothing, Andrew muttered, and then, backtracking, its a ball over, isnt it your job Oh, youre shocked, are you? yelled Simon, and Paul dropped his spoon and dribbled ice plane down himself. (Clean it up, Pauline, you little pansy) Well, this is the real world, Pizza Face he yelled at Andrew. Fuckers bothwhere trying to do you down So you, he pointed across the table at his eldest son, you get some dirt on Mollison, or dont bother coming home tomorrowSi Simon pushed his chair away from the table, threw down his own spoon, which bounced onto the floor with a clatter, and stalked from the room, slamming t he door behind him. Andrew waited for the inevitable, and was not disappointed.Its a terrible shock for him, a shaken Ruth whispered at her sons. after all the years hes given that company hes worried how hes going to look new-fangledr on us all When the alarm rang at six thirty the adjoining morning, Andrew slammed it off at heart seconds and virtually leapt out of bed. Feeling as though it was Christmas Day, he washed and dressed at speed, then spent cardinal minutes on his hair and face, dabbing minuscule amounts of foundation onto the most overt of his spots.He one-half expected Simon to waylay him as he crept old his parents room, simply he met nobody, and after a hasty overstepfast he wheeled Simons racing bicycle out of the garage and sped off down the hill towards Pagford.It was a misty morning that promised sunshine later. The blinds were still down in the delicatessen, but the door tinkled and gave when he pushed it.Not this way shouted Howard, waddling towards h im. You come in round the back You merchantman leave the bicycle by the bins, get it away from the frontThe rear of the delicatessen, reached by a narrow passageway, comprised a tiny dank patch of stone-paved yard, bordered by high walls, sheds with industrial-sized metal bins and a trapdoor that led down vertiginous stairs to a cellar.You stinker chain it up somewhere there, out of the way, say Howard, who had appeared at the back door, wheezing and sweaty-faced. While Andrew fumbled with the padlock on the chain, Howard dabbed at his forehead with his apron.Right, well start with the cellar, he s maintenance, when Andrew had secured the bicycle. He pointed at the trapdoor. originate down there and see the layout.He bent over the hatch as Andrew climbed down the steps. Howard had not been able to climb down into his own cellar for years. Maureen usually tottered up and down the steps a couple of measure a week but now that it was fully stocked with goods for the cafe, jr. leg s were indispensible.Have a good look around, he shouted at the out-of-sight Andrew. See where weve got the gateaux and all the baked goods? See the titanic bags of coffee beans and the boxes of teabags? And in the corner the toilet rolls and the bin bags?Yeah, Andrews voice echoed up from the depths.You can mobilise me Mr Mollison, said Howard, with a slightly tart edge to his wheezy voice. fine-tune in the cellar, Andrew wondered whether he ought to start straight away.OK Mr Mollison.It sounded sarcastic. He hastened to install amends with a polite question.Whats in these big cupboards?Have a look, said Howard impatiently. Thats what youre down there for. To know where you come out allthing and where you get it from.Howard listened to the muffled sounds of Andrew opening the heavy doors, and hoped that the boy would not prove gormless or need a lot of direction. Howards asthma was particularly bad nowadays the pollen count was unseasonably high, on top of all the extra wor k, and the upheaval and petty frustrations of the opening. The way he was sweating, he might need to ring Shirley to bring him a new shirt before they unlocked the doors.Heres the train Howard shouted, hearing a rumble at the other end of the passageway. Get up here Youre to carry the stuff down to the cellar and put it away, all right? And bring a couple of gallons of milk through to me in the cafe. You got that?Yeah Mr Mollison, said Andrews voice from below.Howard walked slowly back within to fetch the inhaler that he kept in his jacket, which was hanging up in the ply room behind the delicatessen foresee. Several deep breaths later, he felt much better. Wiping his face on his apron again, he sat down on one of the creaking chairs to rest.Several quantify since he had been to see her about his skin rash, Howard had thought about what Dr Jawanda had said about his weight that it was the source of all his health problems.Nonsense, obviously. Look at the Hubbards boy built li ke a beanpole, and shocking asthma. Howard had always been big, as far back as he could remember. In the very a couple of(prenominal) photographs taken of him with his father, who had left the family when Howard was four or five, he was merely chubby. After his father had left, his mother had sat him at the head of the table, between herself and his grandmother, and been scathe if he did not take seconds. Steadily he had grown to demand the space between the deuce women, as heavy at xii as the father who had left them. Howard had come to associate a satisfying appetite with manliness. His bulk was one of his defining characteristics. It had been built with pleasure, by the women who love him, and he thought it was absolutely characteristic of Bends-Your-Ear, that emasculating killjoy, that she wanted to strip him of it. simply sometimes, in moments of weakness, when it became difficult to breathe or to move, Howard knew fear. It was all very heartysome for Shirley to act as t hough he had never been in danger, but he remembered long nights in the hospital after his bypass, when he had not been able to sleep for worry that his heart might falter and stop. Whenever he caught sight of Vikram Jawanda, he remembered that those long dark fingers had actually touched his naked, lashing heart the bonhomie with which he brimmed at each encounter was a way of driving out that primitive, instinctive terror. They had told him at the hospital subsequently that he needed to lose some weight, but he had dropped two stone naturally while he was forced to live off their dreadful food, and Shirley had been intent on fattening him up again erstwhile he was out Howard sat for a moment more, enjoying the ease with which he breathed after using his inhaler. Today meant a great deal to him. Thirty-five years previously, he had introduced fine dining to Pagford with the elan of a sixteenth-century adventurer returning with delicacies from the other side of the world, and Pag ford, after initial wariness, had short begun to nose curiously and timidly into his polystyrene pots. He thought wistfully of his late mother, who had been so proud of him and his thriving business. He wished that she could have seen the cafe. Howard heaved himself back to his feet, took his deerstalker from its move up and placed it carefully on his head in an act of self-coronation.His new waitresses arrived together at half-past eight. He had a surprise for them.Here you are, he said, holding out the uniforms black dresses with frilly white aprons, exactly as he had imagined. Ought to fit. Maureen reckoned she knew your sizes. Shes wearing away one herself. atomic number 32 forced back a laugh as Maureen stalked into the delicatessen from the cafe, smiling at them. She was wearing Dr Scholls sandals over her black stockings. Her dress finished two inches above her unironed knees.You can change in the staff room, girls, she said, indicating the place from which Howard had ju st emerged.Gaia was already pulling off her jeans beside the staff toilet when she saw Sukhvinders expression.Whassamatter, Sooks? she asked.The new nickname gave Sukhvinder the courage to say what she might otherwise have been otiose to voice.I cant wear this, she whispered.Why? asked Gaia. Youll look OK.But the black dress had short sleeves.I cant.But wh Jesus, said Gaia.Sukhvinder had pulled back the sleeves of her sweatshirt. Her inner arms were covered in ugly criss-cross scars, and angry fresh-clotted cuts travelled up from her wrist joint to her inner arm.Sooks, said Gaia quietly. What are you playing at, mate?Sukhvinder agitate her head, with her eye full of tears.Gaia thought for a moment, then said, I know come here.She was stripping off her long-sleeved T-shirt.The door suffered a big blow and the imperfectly closed bolt shot open a sweating Andrew was halfway inside, carrying two weighty packs of toilet rolls, when Gaias angry shout stopped him in his tracks. He tri pped out backwards, into Maureen.Theyre changing in there, she said, in sour disapproval.Mr Mollison told me to put these in the staff bathroom.Holy shit, holy shit. She had been barren to her bra and pants. He had seen nearly everything.Sorry, Andrew yelled at the closed door. His whole face was throbbing with the force of his blush.Wanker, muttered Gaia, on the other side. She was holding out her T-shirt to Sukhvinder. Put it on underneath the dress.Thatll look weird.Never mind. You can get a black one for next week, itll look like youre wearing long sleeves. Well tell him some story Shes got eczema, Gaia announced, when she and Sukhvinder emerged from the staff room, fully dressed and aproned. All up her arms. Its a bit scabby.Ah, said Howard, glancing at Sukhvinders white T-shirted arms and then back at Gaia, who looked every bit as gorgeous as he had hoped.Ill get a black one for next week, said Sukhvinder, unable to look Howard in the eye.Fine, he said, patting Gaia in the p iffling of her back as he sent the pair of them through to the cafe. Brace yourselves, he called to his staff at large. Were nearly there doors open, please, MaureenThere was already a little mil of customers waiting on the pavement. A sign outside read The Copper Kettle, Opening Today First Coffee FreeAndrew did not see Gaia again for hours. Howard kept him busy heaving milk and production juices up and down the steep cellar steps, and swabbing the floor of the small kitchen area at the back. He was given a eat break earlier than either of the waitresses. The next glimpse he got of her was when Howard summoned him to the counter of the cafe, and they passed within inches of each other as she walked in the other direction, towards the back room.Were swamped, Mr value said Howard, in high good humour. Get yourself a dismantle apron and mop down some of these tables for me while Gaia has her lunchMiles and Samantha Mollison had sat down with their two daughters and Shirley at a table in the window.It seems to be going awfully well, doesnt it? Shirley said, flavour around. But what on humans is that Jawanda girl wearing under her dress?Bandages? suggested Miles, squinting across the room.Hi, Sukhvinder called Lexie, who knew her from primeval school.Dont shout, darling, Shirley reproved her granddaughter, and Samantha bristled.Maureen emerged from behind the counter in her short black dress and frilly apron, and Shirley corpsed into her coffee.Oh dear, she said quietly, as Maureen walked towards them, beaming.It was true, Samantha thought, Maureen looked ridiculous, especially next to a pair of sixteen-year-olds in identical dresses, but she was not going to give Shirley the satisfaction of agreeing with her. She turned ostentatiously away, watching the boy mopping tables nearby. He was spare but reasonably broad-shouldered. She could see his muscles working under the unfreeze T-shirt. Incredible to gestate that Miles big fat backside could ever have been that small and tight then the boy turned into the light and she saw his acne.Not half bad, is it? Maureen was croaking to Miles. Weve been full all day.All right, girls, Miles addressed his family, whatll we have to redeem up Grandpas profits?Samantha listlessly ordered a bowl of soup, as Howard waddled through from the delicatessen he had been striding in and out of the cafe every ten minutes all day, greeting customers and checking the flow of cash into the till. make noise success, he told Miles, squeezing in at their table. What dyou think of the place, Sammy? You havent seen it before, have you? want the mural? Like the china?Mm, said Samantha. Lovely.I was thinking about having my sixty-fifth here, said Howard, absent-mindedly scratching at the itch Parminders creams had not to that degree cured, but its not big enough. I think well stick with the church building hall.Whens that, Grandpa? piped up Lexie. Am I coming?Twenty-ninth, and what are you now sixteen? Course you can come, said Howard happily.The twenty-ninth? said Samantha. Oh, but Shirley looked at her sharply.Howards been planning this for months. Weve all been talking about it for ages. thats the night of Libbys concert, said Samantha.A school thing, is it? asked Howard.No, said Libby, Mums got me tickets for my favourite group. Its in London.And Im going with her, said Samantha. She cant go alone.Harriets mum says she could Im taking you, Libby, if youre going to London.The twenty-ninth? said Miles, looking hard at Samantha. The day after the election?Samantha let loose the derisive laugh that she had spared Maureen.Its the Parish Council, Miles. Its not as though youll be grown press conferences.Well, well miss you, Sammy, said Howard, as he hauled himself up with the aid of the back of her chair. Best get on all right, Andrew, youre done here go and see if we need anything up from the cellar.Andrew was forced to wait beside the counter while people passed to and from the bathr oom. Maureen was loading up Sukhvinder with plates of sandwiches.Hows your mother? she asked the girl abruptly, as though the thought had just occurred to her.Fine, said Sukhvinder, her colour rising.Not too upset by that nasty business on the council website?No, said Sukhvinder, her eyes watering.Andrew proceeded out into the dank yard, which, in the early afternoon, had become warm and sunny. He had hoped that Gaia might be there, taking a breath of fresh air, but she must have gone into the staff room in the deli. Disappointed, he lit up a cigarette. He had barely inhaled when Gaia emerged from the cafe, finishing her lunch with a can of fizzy drink.Hi, said Andrew, his spill dry.Hi, she said. Then, after a moment or two Hey, whys that friend of yours such a shit to Sukhvinder? Is it personal or is he racist?He isnt racist, said Andrew. He removed the cigarette from his mouth, trying to keep his hands from trembling, but could not think of anything else to say. The sunshine ref lected off the bins warmed his sweaty back close proximity to her in the tight black dress was almost overwhelming, especially now that he had glimpsed what lay beneath. He took another cart of the cigarette, not knowing when he had felt so bedazzled or so alive.Whats she ever done to him, though?The curve of her hips to her tiny waist the nonesuch of her wide, flecked eyes over the can of Sprite. Andrew felt like saying, Nothing, hes a bastard, Ill hit him if you let me touch you Sukhvinder emerged into the yard, blinking in the sunlight she looked ill-fitting and hot in Gaias top.He wants you back in, she said to Gaia.He can wait, said Gaia coolly. Im finishing this. Ive only had forty minutes.Andrew and Sukhvinder contemplated her as she sipped her drink, frighten by her arrogance and her beauty.Was that old bitch saying something to you just then, about your mum? Gaia asked Sukhvinder.Sukhvinder nodded.I think it mightve been his mate, she said, staring at Andrew again, and he found her emphasis on his positively erotic, even if she meant it to be derogatory, who put that message about your mum on that website.Cantve been, said Andrew, and his voice wobbled slightly. Whoever did it went after my old man, too. Couple of weeks ago.What? asked Gaia. The same person posted something about your public address system?He nodded, relishing her interest.Something about stealing, wasnt it? asked Sukhvinder, with considerable daring.Yeah, said Andrew. And he got the unclutter for it yesterday. So her mum, he met Gaias blinding gaze almost steadily, isnt the only one whos suffered.Bloody hell, said Gaia, upending the can and throwing it into a bin. People round here are effing mental.